Brazil's Long Descent Perhaps Begins

David Trammel's picture

In understanding how to build resilient communities, it is often helpful to study how they collapse.

One of Greer's characteristics of a society in Collapse that Greer discusses, in reference to his "Theory of Catabolic Collapse", was the rise of a "Caesar" during periods of political turmoil. Societies under stress will often seek simple answers and a charismatic leader can take advantage of that to rise to power. The Poor and Middle Class, after seeing both Liberal and Conservative political parties make a mess of things, will decide that a person that promises change and give them support, even if they might not believe they can make it come about. This can lead to authoritative rule and the collapse of democratic political institutions.

Not all places will collapse at the same time.

The recent presidential elections in Brazil, have many political scholars and annalists worried that such a political shift to authoritative rule is happening in Brazil.

"Brazil Is About To Show The World How A Modern Democracy Collapses"

"As with Trump, Bolsonaro’s attack on corruption went beyond hypocrisy. It was a Herrenvolk appeal — spoils for the dominant class, banishment or marginalization for everyone else — and the tubthumping about corruption fit into larger themes about the contamination of Brazilian identity by the country’s underclasses.

For the whole of history, as Hannah Arendt wrote, totalitarians have depended on a coalition between the elite and the mob. In Brazil, as elsewhere, the rise of a new authoritarian required the acquiescence of a patrician class unwilling to accept any of the blame for the systemic ills the country was facing. And while so much media attention was lavished on the ordinary folks who supported Bolsonaro, it was more significant that his levels of support rose with each step up the income ladder, thanks to elites who shared his disdain for the left and were happy to empower a fascist to thwart it.

The worst ills Bolsonaro would inflict would be reserved for the most vulnerable of Brazil’s populations, anyway. The elites, as always, are exempt from the pain they cause."

Its a long read of a dangerous development, but worth the time.

This second article illustrates how the Elite of Banking, Industry and Finance can ignore a populist and nationalistic politician's words, thinking that once that politician gets in power they will moderate or go back on their stated policies.

"Financial Elites Are Ready To Throw Brazil Into The Hands Of A Far-Right Authoritarian"

In my opinion this is a dangerous assumption. Not because an authoritative leader will moderate their policies once gaining power, and enact laws that will benefit the Elites, because most authoritative leaders will do just that. They are at their core opportunists, who use the dissatisfaction of the Masses, in a self serving and dishonest way just to gain power but the advantages they gain by the support of the Elites can quickly turn into a liability, if the Masses discontent grows too loud. Just as they will ignore the voices of the Masses, when it doesn't benefit them, they will ignore the voices of the Elite when it doesn't benefit them as well.

This failure to actually make change, has the potential to further alienate the Masses, with the potential that their anger will grow to violence. The Purge that comes from that can be excessive. Making small and reasonable concession, will serve the Elite more than ignoring those grievances for short term gains.

And yet a bigger fault in all this, is the way that reformers, elected on the promise of change allow their new found access to power to corrupt them. Only a fool would think that the Masses wouldn't be more angry at a reformer's corruption, than one of the Elite's.


The lesson I believe in all of this, is when trying to build communities, failing to keep your word. "Walk the Talk", and don't compromise your principles. The "Powers That Be" are strong opponents, and sometimes you may fail and perhaps even be forced into a retreat, and yet as long as the people that support you see your integrity and you hold true to what you have said, then you can effect meaningful change.